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Psittacosaur tail structures



Gunter,
This is the first I've heard of these structures on the tail of Psittacosaurs. How did I miss this? Oh well, sounds very interesting and thought provoking.
Anyway, it fits in very nicely with my hypothesis that protofeathers began on the tails of dinosaurs and then spread forward on the body in their descendants and later became exapted for thermoregulation (incl. brooding). I think aerodynamic feathers came even later (even wing feathers would have been initially thermoregulatory, as favored by Tom Hopps and others).
The purpose of this integument on just the tail would presumably be predator evasion (diverting attention to a relatively expendable end of the tail). If this stage occurred in early dinosauromorphs, it would perhaps make balancing problems (brought up by Jaime Headdin) from loss of part of the tail even less of a problem for my hypothesis. Such a predator evasion strategy would have worked especially well in forms that had long slender tail tips (wiggly, but with little mass).
----Ken Kinman
P.S. Psittacosaurs could represent the brooding thermoregulatory stage if they had this integement on the posterior abdomen.



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